Want a healthy winter? Prepare to
Defending your Borders
The immune system is the army that your body uses to protect
itself against viruses and bacteria - the bugs that cause
colds and flu. You’d better hope your army is in good shape,
because those bugs lurk all around you just waiting for an
opportunity to strike. Viruses can linger for up to 17 days on
banknotes , and the average keyboard mouse is 3 times
dirtier than a toilet seat...
This amazing army that you have marching around inside you is
made up of heaps of white blood cells. When they are in good
shape they patrol your bloodstream, on the look out for
anything that seems dodgy or shouldn’t be there. They can,
however, be adversely affected by all sorts of lifestyle
factors, not to mention diet, so there is plenty that you can
do to keep them in trim and yourself safely un-snotty.
Get your Greens! And Reds, and Oranges...
Colourful foods such as beetroot, blueberries, blackberries,
carrots, mangoes, raspberries, red peppers and sweet potatoes
contain healthy nutrients that feed your army the things it
needs to work well. Green foods such as broccoli, cabbage and
celery will also give you a boost. You’ll find many of the
berries and things like mango in the freezer section of
supermarkets, so they’re easy to store and then use in
smoothies or puddings when the mood takes you.
If your diet centres around highly processed foods, refined
way beyond what they originally were when they fell off a tree
or grew out of the ground, then it probably doesn’t contain a
great deal of nutritional value. You may struggle to defend
yourself against bugs, as your army will be marching without
much in its stomach...
You also want to look out for the following factors in your
- Drinking lots of caffeine may seem
the only way to keep up with your study deadlines or make it
through morning lectures, but it puts pressure on the
adrenal glands and this suppresses immune function. Being
stressed isn’t good for anything in your body, and caffeine
increases the feeling of stress because it triggers
adrenalin production in your body. Cut back on the cuppas
and make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. Have juices
too (more vitamin C - good for your immune cells) and
explore the huge variety of herb teas out there.
- Are you a sugar junkie? This isn’t
just bad for your skin and your waistline, it makes as mess
of your vitamin C levels. Your immune system needs vitamin
C, so cut back the sugar and be sweet to your defence force.
Swap sugary snacks for dried fruit such as apricots and
dates - they’re full of nutrients, stop you feeling hungry,
and taste great!
- If your dinner often consists of
something out of a deep fat fryer then you’re asking for
podgy immune cells. Saturated fat is just as bad for them as
it is for you. They get lazy and don’t do their job.
- You won’t like this one, but if
you’re surrounded by people coughing and spluttering and
clearly in the throes of an infection, it’s a bad time to
get plastered. Drink upsets your immune cells - they can’t
concentrate on doing their duties when you’re under the
There are heaps of other things you can be aware of to
shore up your defences, all of which will help your general
health as well as keeping you away from the hankies.
- Don’t smoke - like you didn’t know
it...It kills off your vitamin C (about 25mg for each
cigarette) and really messes up your immune function.
- Don’t skip sleep - research has
shown that missing out on regular sleep increases your
likelihood of succumbing to a cold. Get snoozing.
- If you’re unhappy then your immune
cells respond badly - happiness is good for you!
- Stress undermines everything,
including your ability to digest and therefore get your
nutrients from food. However, it’s also particularly bad for
Get into Echinacea as soon as possible. It can protect you
against the likelihood of catching a cold , or reduce the
severity of the symptoms if you already have one . It will
also lessen the duration of the cold if you already have it.
- Take Echinacea once a day for
general protection, but increase it to twice daily if people
around you are going down with bugs, or you know you’ll be
travelling or coming into contact with lots of new people
with heaps of new bugs to share with you!
- If you have to share space with
someone who has a cold, Echinacea can lessen the likelihood
of it being transmitted to you . It blocks the virus as
it travels out from infected cells in search of new victims.
- Luckily for us, viruses and
bacteria seem incapable of developing resistance to
Echinacea. In trials, however often a bug encountered
Echinacea, it still couldn’t resist it. 
A.Vogel Echinaforce Echinacea is available as drops or
It is available from Boots, selected pharmacies and
independent food stores. Echinacea drops cost £3.95 for 15ml,
£9.15 for 50ml and £16.20 for 100ml. Echinacea tablets cost
£4.50 for 42 tablets and £9.15 for 120 tablets. For further
information and stockists visit
 Thomas Y et al.Appl.Environ. Microbiol. 2008
 Schoop R et al. Clinical Therapeutics 2006; 1: 10 and Shah
SA et al. The Lancet Infectious Diseases 2007; 59 (4): 567-73
 The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 1.
Art. No.: CD000530. pub2
 Goel et al. Phytother Res 2005; 19 (8): 689-94
 Schapowal A. Schweiz Z. Gansheitsmed 2011; 23: 40-44
 Pleschka S et al. Virol J 2009; 6: 197
This article has kindly been sponsored by A. Vogel